A preliminary study has found tentative evidence suggesting low levels of vitamin D may make it more likely an individual will die after contracting coronavirus.
The research compared average levels of vitamin D across 20 European countries with COVID-19 infection rate and mortality.
It revealed a convincing correlation where countries with low vitamin D levels were also the countries with highest mortality and COVID-19 infection rates.
The study has not yet been peer-reviewed and scrutinised by other scientists and is unable to prove vitamin D is the reason behind this link.
However, the scientists from Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation Trust and the University of East Anglia write in their study: ‘We believe, that we can advise Vitamin D supplementation to protect against SARS-CoV2 infection.’
This finding backs up a separate study which also found vitamin D may improve a person’s chance of recovery after contracting the coronavirus.
A ten-week trial from the University of Granada is currently ongoing after a recent study by Trinity College Dublin found adults who took Vitamin D supplements saw a 50 per cent fall in chest infections.
The latest study used pre-existing data on vitamin D levels, including from a comprehensive 2019 study led by Paul Lips, Professor Emeritus of internal medicine at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
This previous study collected data on vitamin D levels of populations across Europe and the Middle East.
The study involved taking vitamin D measurements of thousands of individuals.
The latest study on the vitamin’s effectiveness against COVID-19 narrowed this data to 20 countries, to negate any interfering factors, such as a country’s latitude.
The average amount of vitamin D in serum samples was (56 nmol/l), with anything below 30nmol/l deemed ‘severely deficient’.
The latest study took the existing database of vitamin D levels and found worryingly low levels of vitamin D in the elderly, a demographic more at risk of dying after contracting the coronavirus.
‘[The study shows levels of] vitamin D of 26nmol/L in Spain, 28 nmol/L in Italy and 45 nmol/L in the Nordic countries, in older people,’ the researchers write.
‘In Switzerland, mean vitamin D levels are 23(nmol/L) in nursing homes and in Italy 76 per cent of women over 70 years of age have been found to have circulating levels below 30nmol/L.
‘These are countries with high number of cases of COVID–19 and the ageing people is the group with the highest risk for morbidity and mortality with SARS-Cov2.’
Vitamin D can make its way into the human body either through certain foods, such as fish and mushroom, or can be produced by skin cells when exposed to sunlight.
A simple statistical analysis, called a t-test, was then performed on the two sets of data to determine any relationship which unearthed the correlation between deaths and vitamin D levels.
‘The most vulnerable group of population for COVID-19 is also the one that was the most deficit in vitamin D,’ the researchers conclude in their preliminary report.